Meeting Moms in the Hills of Bolivia

On February 7 and 8, I’ll have the honor to join women (many moms)  from across the country at the IF: Gathering. The name of this gathering comes from a simple question: “If God is real, then what?” Many of us will meet in Austin, Texas, but many others will be at simulcast host sites across the United States.

The IF: Gathering is a special moment for us at Food for the Hungry (FH). Back in October, a few of us went to Bolivia. (We filmed a video chronicling what we discovered, which will be unveiled at IF.)  What we found there was shocking.

Upon arriving in Bolivia, we snapped a group photo.

We traveled far into rural, scenic Bolivia, logging many hours on bumpy, dangerous roads that curled around mountains. Our bus took us to communities that just a few years ago had no roads at all. No access to the outside world, other than day-long hikes to the next village. No access to medical care or agricultural support. As a result, for many generations, these communities ate only three crops: corn, wheat and potatoes.

We traveled far into rural, scenic Bolivia, logging many hours on bumpy, dangerous roads that curled around mountains.

Imagine a diet of only corn, wheat and potatoes. Imagine never having tasted onions, broccoli or peaches. Imagine trying to survive on corn, wheat and potatoes, every day, for your entire life.

The fact is that people didn’t survive. Many babies didn’t make it to their second birthday, and those who did make it to adulthood, usually died before reaching age 60. They didn’t want to live this way, so they asked for help. And FH responded.

Today, these rural communities are gaining access to diverse, regionally appropriate crops. Moms are learning how to feed their children a balanced diet.

This family proudly showed us their fruit and vegetable garden.

We visited a nutrition class where moms learned about fruits and vegetables. Our hosts encouraged us to talk with these women about their experiences with feeding their children. They pointed out that we could all learn from one another.

My friend Karen spoke up. As Karen wrote on her blog,

I ask the women how they get their children to eat vegetables.

“How do you prepare them?” I inquire, because don’t mothers everywhere struggle to get their children to eat broccoli?

“The children have only been eating potatoes and corn.  So they actually like how vegetables taste.  They like the flavor and variety,” she offers.

We have so many choices, do we not?

Yes, we do.

Bolivian women learn the importance of feeding their children a balanced diet including fruits and vegetables.

At the IF: Gathering, we will share the stories of children we met, along with the faces of so many other children who were born into hungry places. My prayer is that many will respond to the question: “If God is real, then how would He have me respond?”

About Wendy McMahan

Wendy McMahan is grateful for her front row seat in watching God “reconcile all things to Himself.” (Colossians 1:20) She still can’t believe that she gets to participate in His story every day. Wendy and her husband are proud parents to two daughters and have been foster parents to children of all ages. Wendy serves as Director of Church Engagement at Food for the Hungry. She hosts the Poverty Unlocked podcast.

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